19 July 2018

An Interview with Steph Ward, a Student Nurse working as a HCA for Newcross

  • While studying for a nursing degree is a wholly worthwhile endeavour, there are certain challenges students will face along the way, such as getting practical experience and paying maintenance bills. It’s therefore unsurprising that many student nurses choose to work as a Healthcare Assistant, so they can ‘earn while they learn’. We interviewed Steph Ward about the time she spent with us at Newcross in our Chester branch during her studies.

    Steph Ward HCAWhat made you join Newcross to begin with?

    "I joined Newcross in 2014 to gain more experience within the healthcare industry to prepare myself for my Nursing degree and to gain more confidence in order to prepare myself for a variety of Nursing placements during my degree."

    What have been the benefits of working with Newcross throughout your time as a student? /How has working for Newcross helped you during your time as a student nurse and now your qualified?

    "The benefits of working for Newcross throughout my training have excelled my experience and broadened my skills for my future career.

    Newcross enabled me to gain experience through a variety of placements, such as Nursing Homes, Hospices, Brain injury units and End of Life care. The most valuable skill I have improved on is my communication skills."

    What has made you stay with Newcross now you are qualified?

    "The flexibility of Newcross continues to support my career and the variety of settings continues to progress my skills and knowledge to support my job role as an Oncology Staff Nurse."

    How did you find balancing work around your placements and exams? 

    "The flexibility of agency work supports the stresses of student Nurse life. The weekly pay supports the financial struggles throughout a nursing degree – which is a massive help!"

    What would you say to other student nurses thinking of joining Newcross?

    "It’s a fantastic opportunity to gain a greater depth of experience and understanding within many health and social care settings. You can work as much and as little as you need to balance your workload. Throughout the holiday periods I would work more hours. This helped me use my time more effectively when I had a difficult essay to write I could reduce my hours to support my studies."

    student nurse image

    Ami Allmand, Chester BCM has been thoroughly impressed with Steph's contribution to the team:

    "Steph has made a significant contribution to the Chester team and her hard work has been recognised. Steph has an excellent relationship with both staff and residents wherever she goes and has had some really positive feedback from our clients. Steph is a very professional and caring person and all my residents loved her. I am confident Steph will continue to grow and develop through her preceptorship and I look forward to her working with Newcross as a nurse in the future."

    For more information on how to make the most of working as you study, refer to our Five Tips for Student Nurses article. If you're a Student Nurse looking for flexible work, you can look through our Careers Page for the latest opportunities. 

18 July 2018

Why Care? 5 Reasons Why you Should Pursue a Career as a Healthcare Assistant with Newcross

  • Coined as the 'linchpins of the care world,' Healthcare Assistants serve on the front line of the healthcare industry. Working alongside doctors and nurses in a supporting role, HCAs are at the forefront of what we do at Newcross, delivering excellent care to our service users. 

    hcaSo, what are the most rewarding aspects of a Healthcare Assistant role? 

    1.) No two days are ever the same

    You won't get bored as an HCA! The role is varied, including a range of tasks and activities such as personal care, domestic tasks and general activities that allow the individual being cared for to live their life in the manner in which they choose.

    2.) You'll receive proper training

    Every month we deliver between 150 and 200 courses to over 1,000 Nurses and Healthcare Assistants. Led by our dedicated in-house clinical trainers and supported by a network of individually selected local partners, all Clinical Courses are developed with and endorsed by our Clinical Governance Team. With Newcross, you'll have access to our NVQ/SVQs depending on availability and funding in your area. We also offer a variety of clinical courses, ranging from End of Life Care to Moving and Handling. Learn while you earn!

    3.) The work is flexible

    You can take advantage of our agency style working, fitting your career around other daily activities. This is an ideal job for those who have family commitments or study plans. Being flexible allows you to meet your clients’ expectations and live your life however you choose.

    4.) It's the ideal job for a 'People Person'

    Caring allows you to meet new people all the time. As well as service-users, you’ll be part of a team of carers and healthcare professionals who you'll be working closely with. Being a carer offers provides you the opportunity to become active in your community, making a difference. 

    5.) Being a carer gives you the unique opportunity to make a real difference in someone's life

    Care and companionship really does make a difference. Healthcare staff spend the most one-on-one time with patients. You will often be caring for those who are at their most vulnerable and they will rely on you for support. 

        Watch our video below for a further insight into the role of a carer at Newcross. 

18 July 2018

Is Caffeine a part of your Daily Grind? Three Surprising Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee

  • In the UK, we drink around 70 million cups of coffee each day. Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive substance in the world and we're often reminded of it's downsides. From withdrawals to indigestion to anxiety, we're aware of the associated risks that second or third cup of coffee poses to our health, but are there any benefits to enjoying that extra Americano on your break? 

    1.) Coffee is rich in Polyphenols 

    Coffee is rich in a group of compounds called polyphenols that naturally occur in plants, a form of defence against insects. Foods that are rich in polyphenols are coined as 'superfoods' by the media. Those of you coffee-lovers who drink three cups on average a day are in luck, as you may be getting as much as 1g of these compounds a day simply from hot beverages. (Which is a lot, apparently.) 

    But why are Polyphenols so raved about? They have been proven to decrease blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke, and increase blood supply to the brain, possibly offering additional protection against dementia.

    2.) Coffee can help you lose weight

    There's a reason why caffeine is found in almost every commercial fat burning supplement. In several studies, it has been proven to raise the metabolic rate by 3-11%, stimulating thermogenesis and burning fat. The best time to drink coffee for weight loss is in the morning, to kick-start the day but take heed! Like all substances, our bodies can become immune to the fat burning benefits if we drink too much. You really can have too much of  a good thing! 

    3.) Coffee may prevent liver disease

    A British Liver Trust report, ‘Coffee and the liver – the potential health benefits confirms coffee is beneficial to health.

    The report evidences that regularly drinking moderate amounts of coffee may prevent liver cancer – the World Health Organisation has recently confirmed this reduced risk after reviewing more than 1,000 studies in humans.

    Coffee also lowers the risk of other liver conditions including fibrosis (scar tissue that builds up within the liver) and cirrhosis. Drinking coffee can also slow the progression of liver disease in some patients.

    Positive effects have been found however the coffee is prepared – filtered, instant and espresso.

    benefits of coffee

12 July 2018

Five Shady Suncream Myths you Should Block Out

  • There’s nothing more irritating than trying to get an even tan, for your skin to start peeling just few days later from overexposure to the sun’s rays. The worst part? It’s totally avoidable. All you have to do is wear sun cream. Protecting yourself with a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher can save your skin. 

    More than 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually in the UK.

    All the hot weather we’ve been experiencing lately has got us thinking about sun protection. Skin cancer rates in the UK are on the rise and for the first  time, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has published an online guide on how to select and correctly use the right products to keep safe in the sun.

    The advice for sun-worshipers is as follows: Apply one ounce of sun cream per adult before stepping into the sun, ensuring that it’s reapplied throughout the day if out and about, ideally every two hours. So, what is preventing people from using sun cream?


    Some of the shady myths surrounding sun protection include...

    1.) Sunscreen will prevent the body from absorbing vitamin D

    Vitamin D is a vital nutrient for human health. In order to get the amount you need, you need to be exposed to the sun for about fifteen minutes a day. After the needed amount of time, your body’s production of Vitamin D stops. We do not continuously make and produce Vitamin D every time we are exposed to the sun. 

    2.) People with dark skin do not need sunscreen

    While people with darker skin are more protected from the sun, they should still use a full spectrum sunscreen. UVA damage is not blocked by melanin in the same way and can lead to premature skin aging and wrinkles.

    3.) If you wear makeup you don’t need to wear sun cream

    While it is true that makeup may provide a little protection from the sun, it is not much and is not a replacement for sunscreen.

    4.) Sunscreen never expires

    Like all other skincare products, sunscreen naturally expires. The active ingredients can break down over time, and using expired sunblock will leave the skin unprotected.

    5.)  If you sit under a beach umbrella, you don’t need sunscreen 

    Think again. Sand reflects 17% of UV radiation. You still need to wear sunscreen and protective clothing if you’re relaxing under an umbrella on the beach. 

    If you're concerned about the ingredients of your sun cream, here are some tips on what to keep an eye out for...

    Things you want in your sunscreen:

    • SPF 30 
    • Broad Spectrum and/or PA+
    • Water Resistant
    • Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Restorative Omegas, Meadowfoam Seed

    Things to avoid in your sunscreen:

    • Oxybenzone (A skincare allergen)
    • SPF values over 50 (SPF benefits top out at 50)
    • Parabens
    • Retinyl Palmitate—or Vitamin A (Studies suggest this antioxidant can speed up the growth of skin cancer)
    • Fragrances (Often irritating and usually responsible for burning the eyes)

    Sunscreens should not be used as an alternative to clothing and shade, rather they offer additional protection.

12 July 2018

Does an Apple a day really keep the Doctor Away?

  • "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." We're all familiar with the old proverb from our school days, but does it hold any truth? What are the health benefits associated with eating the common apple? We investigated...

    They boost your immune system

    A single apple provides roughly 10% of your daily recommended allowance for vitamin C. A raw apple, weighing 138 grams with skin, provides 6.3 milligrams of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid. 

    They Fight Cancerous Cells

    Apples are full of anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic and anti-proliferative qualities and flavonoids. They therefore have the potential to lower the risk of pancreatic cancer. 

    They're good for your brain

    Evidence suggests that apples promote acetylcholine production, which communicates between nerve cells, so apples may help your memory and lower your chances of developing Alzheimer's.

    Did you know?        Apples contain no fat, sodium or cholesterol and are a good source of fibre.

    They Detoxify your liver

    Your liver is responsible for ridding your body of toxins. There are many questionable fad diets out there which are unlikely to work. Instead,you can eat an apple a day to help detoxify your liver and keep you feeling full. 

    They're a low calorie snack 

     An apple has only 50-80 calories and has no fat or sodium.

    They reduce cholesterol

    The soluble fibre found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels and a healthier you.

    They make your teeth whiter and healthier

    Don't stop brushing your teeth just yet, but it's true, chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria. 


Apple a day
11 July 2018

What is Mindfulness? Three Easy Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness into your Day-to-Day Life

  • Have you ever driven home from work listening to your favourite radio station, only to forget everything the host was talking about within a mere few minutes? Perhaps you’ve spent a day at work, to then find yourself sitting at home in the evening, unable to think of any stand-out moments of your day to tell your partner about. These are examples of living mindlessly, otherwise known as being on ‘autopilot’ and we are all guilty of it.

    Living life in autopilot mode means we aren’t fully absorbing our surroundings and all the associated information available to us. This leads to a state of inactivity and unawareness that has the potential  to increase feelings of instability, fear or anger.

    "Mindfulness improves our ability to focus and make decisions." - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience Journal.

    Ask yourself: When is the last time you sat and had a cup of coffee in silence? When was the last time you drove without listening to music or the radio? When was the last time you took a walk, just to enjoy the scenery? We are missing out on opportunities and moments of connectedness such as these, because we are simply  too preoccupied with other distractions. 

    So what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the exact opposite of having a full mind. Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting how you're feeling in body and mind. It is commonly used to aid mental health conditions, ranging from depression and anxiety to stress.

    The benefits include: becoming more self-aware, feeling calmer and less stressed, feeling confident in choosing how to respond to your thoughts and feelings, coping with difficult or unhelpful thoughts and being kinder towards yourself. According to Psycology Today, mindful people are happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure.


    How can you incorporate mindfulness into your day? 

    1.) Mindful Eating

    Research suggests that eating mindfully improves digestion, regulates our appetite and helps us enjoy our food. But, how do you eat mindfully? A starting point is to slow down. Chew slowly and savour the taste of your food. Think about what you're eating and why, while allowing your digestive system to work at its optimum.

    2.) Mindful Breathing

    A simple mindful breathing method is to focus your attention on the inhale and exhale of your breath, particularly in stressful moments when trying to calm yourself.  It might help to start by taking an exaggerated breath: a deep inhale through your nostrils (3 seconds), hold your breath (2 seconds), and a long exhale through your mouth (4 seconds).

    3.) Be Mindful with Technology

    Set yourself realistic guidelines about when to use your phone and not to. If you're checking your Google alerts and emails constantly on your day off, try and reel it in and be in the moment. Similarly, leave your headphones at home and take a walk. You're bound to notice far more about the world around you without added noise. 

    Mindful Eating

    Do you have any mindfulness tips you'd like to share with us? Tweet us at @NewcrossHealth - we'd love to hear from you. 

05 July 2018

World Cup Fever: How to Tackle these 5 Football Injuries

  • Following a nail-biting penalty shootout against Columbia on Tuesday evening, the England football team have guaranteed their place in the World Cup quarter-finals, and will be playing Sweden this weekend. With football on the nations's brain, we've been looking into the most common football-related injuries and the best ways to tackle them...

    Hamstring Strain

    A hamstring injury is a strain or tear to the tendons or large muscles at the back of the thigh. Hamstring strains are a common injury among all athletes. Treating a hamstring injury is straightforward: rest the leg and apply a cool pack or ice to reduce the initial pain. Then, compress the leg and elevate it on a pillow or any available higher surface. Suggest the injured player takes anti-inflammatory painkillers.


    Concussion is a temporary injury to the brain caused by a sudden bump or jolt to the head, so it's unsurprising that concussion is a fairly regular injury on the pitch. Signs of a concussion, like dizziness and confusion, tend to appear within a few minutes or hours of a head injury. To aid recovery, advise the concussed individual to get plenty of bed rest and to avoid stressful situations. Make sure they're supervised or regularly checked on.

    Knee Ligament Injuries

    Ligament injuries are one of the most common injuries encountered by football players and unfortunately very few fully recover from the problem. Robert Pires, Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer, Ronaldo, and Ruud van Nistelrooy have all suffered from prolonged knee ligament damage. To treat ligament injuries, raise the affected knee on a pillow. Suggest the injured person wears a knee brace to stabilize the knee and protect it from further injury. Suggest anti-inflammatory painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxyn to help with swelling.

    Ankle Sprain

    An ankle sprain is an injury to the tough bands of tissue (ligaments) that surround and connect the bones of the leg to the foot. The injury typically happens when you accidentally twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the ligaments that hold your ankle bones and joints together. Protect the injury by using a support, ensure the sprained ankle is sufficiently rested, compressed and elevated as often as possible. 

    Sports Hernia 

    Hernia and groin problems are common in sports, particularly in football where the pelvic region is subject to stresses during kicking, sprinting and turning. The most common surgical procedure for treating sports hernia involves repairing torn groin and lower-abdomen tissues with internal sutures, followed by a six to eight-week period of intensive physical rehabilitation. This allows muscle strength to rebuild.

    One of our Lead Nurses, in our Bristol branch offered the following advice...

    "Injuries are sadly unavoidable and come with the territory of playing any sport. There are a few things you can do to reduce your risk, though, like warming up and cooling down properly. Wearing the right kit also helps! If you do get injured, then take time off to recover properly and don't push yourself!"  

    football fall


World Cup
04 July 2018

70 Years of the NHS: 10 Extraordinary Facts

  • The National Health Service is one of Britain’s most-adored institutions. In 1945, when the Second World War ended, the country was left disheartened and in severe debt. Three years later, on 5th July 1948, Health Minister Aneurin Bevan informed Brits that they were entitled to free healthcare funded by general taxation, regardless of household income.  On that day, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians, dentists and hospitals came together for the first time, forming a single UK-wide organisation. In the seventy years that followed, the NHS has had a transformative effect on millions of peoples’ lives.

    diabetes The leaflet that was distributed when the NHS was formed read as follows:

    'Everyone - rich or poor, man, woman or child - can use it or any part of it. There are no charges, except for a few items. There are no insurance qualifications. But it is not a “charity”. You are all paying for it, mainly as taxpayers, and it will relieve your money worries in time of illness.'

    More than two-thirds of respondents in a recent poll said they considered the healthcare institution, which turns 70 this week, to be Britain’s greatest achievement.

    Perhaps inevitably, over the course of time, it proved unsustainable tor Britain's ever-growing healthcare demand to rely on taxation alone. Prescriptions at £8.80 per item, dental costs falling into three bands depending on the severity of treatment, eye care costs and wigs and fabric support make up the areas where additional charges now apply.

    According to The Guardian, recent data from the British Social Attitudes Research Centre showed that 61% of people want to pay more tax to fund the health service

    In celebration of the seventy year anniversary of our NHS, we've compiled a collection of facts that paint a picture of NHS today...

    1.) Nurses make up the largest part of the NHS workforce, at just under 30%.

    2.) NHS ambulances make over 50,000 emergency journeys each week.

    3.) In the 2016 Care Quality Commission inpatient satisfaction survey 84% felt that they were always treated with dignity and respect while using inpatient services.

    4.) The NHS in England treats more than 1.4 million patients every 24 hours.

    5.) The NHS in England is expected to spend £126 billion in 2018/19.

    6.) The 6Cs – care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment and competence – are a central plank of Compassion in Practice, which was drawn up by NHS England chief nursing officer Jane Cummings and launched in December 2012.

    7.) There are now around 90 NHS walk-in centres, offering convenient access to services, including treatment for minor illnesses and injuries.

    8.) Professionally qualified staff make up over half (54.0 per cent) of the HCHS workforce (based on FTE).

    9.) When the NHS was founded in 1948, the life expectancy for men was 66, and for women, 71. Today those figures are 77.2 and 81.5.

    10.) In real terms the budget is expected to increase from £120.512bn in 2016/17 to £123.202bn by 2019/20.

    We look forward to continuing to build upon our current working relationship with the National Health Service in the coming years, a vital resource to its millions of users nationwide. 

04 July 2018

Introducing the 'Red Bag' Initiative

  • Red bags issued by the NHS have been helping care home residents admitted to hospital to be discharged in record time. The 'Red Bag' is a new tool to be used by care home residents and staff, acute hospital staff, community hospital staff, GPs and paramedics alike. 

    "The Red Bag scheme is a great step forward in the care we provide for our residents."

    The bags, which contain important medication, paperwork and other personal items such as glasses, slippers and dentures, are transferred to ambulance crews from carers, aiding a smooth transition. 

    The bag then travels with patients to hospital, where they are then handed to the doctor. On the front of the bag is the unique care home I.D. and the resident's full name. The back of the bag features a pouch in which all documentation fits. 

    Pioneered by Sutton Homes of Care, the idea behind the initiative is to promote a quick transfer of clinical care. The bag stays with the resident from the time they leave the home to go to hospital, until they return to their care home, so that all of their personal information can be found in one place. 

    Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage said: 

    “This scheme is an excellent example of the NHS and social care system working together to improve care and support for vulnerable older patients. Not only is this more efficient – saving valuable resources – but it’s a much better experience for patients leaving hospital when their treatment has finished."

    You will be able to access further information of the Red Bag scheme here. To find out about how it affects you, speak to your branch manager. 


28 June 2018

Old Wives’ Tales: How NOT to Treat Burns

  • Burns are one of the most common household accidents, yet there is a great deal of misunderstanding about how to treat them. There are many questionable Old Wives' Tales offering suggestions – from toothpaste to mayonnaise- but how reliable are they? 

    As we are now in the midst of what promises to be a two-week-long heatwave, sunburn will likely become a widespread issue across the UK. Sunburn causes stinging pain and redness, but only affects the outer layer of skin. This is known as a first-degree burn. Other causes of first-degree burns are scalding and mild electrocution, to name a few examples.

    Did you know? Stopping smoking can help the skin to recover, as smoking reduces blood flow to the skin, delaying healing. 

    A recent study undertaken by a well-known parenting advice website, showed that more than one in ten parents grab items from their bathroom cabinets or kitchen cupboards to treat their children’s' minor burns, over seeking professional help.

    Joe Mulligan, the Head of First Aid for the British Red Cross, is setting the record straight:

    “People often think lotions and potions will have a cooling effect, but in reality the most cooling treatment is going to be the water coming out of your tap. Young children in particular have more sensitive skin, so getting the treatment right is vital to help reduce painful scarring in the future.”

    Out of curiosity, we explored some the seemingly far-fetched cures, looking into what actually happens when you apply them to an area of burned skin...


    Ice. Cold, smooth and numbing. Surely ice would be the perfect remedy for a stove burn.

    However, according to The Mayo Clinic, putting ice on a burn can cause frostbite and extensive damage to the skin. To the same end, it isn't a very good idea to pour ice cold water onto a burn, either. The extreme cold causes constriction of the blood vessels and can worsen injury by reducing blood supply. Applying cool water can help to avoid blistering.